Tuesday November 27, 2012

By Phil Smith                                                                                             

The northeastern Modified Racing season came to a close last weekend with the running of the annual Turkey Derby at the Wall Stadium Speedway in Wall, NJ. Despite the severe damage from Hurricane Sandy the speedway escaped with minor damage. Because of the super-human effort by all electric/gas utility workers the Wall Stadium invited all with proper ID to attend the Turkey Derby free of charge.

Matt Hirschman captured the 150 lap modified main event during Turkey Derby XXXIX Saturday afternoon at Wall Stadium. Hirschman held off a challenge from NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour Rookie of the Year Danny Bohn to claim the 150-lap feature. Jimmy Blewett, Mike Bohn and Ken Barry completed the top five in the modified portion of the event. Sixth through tenth were Tim Arre, Zane Zeiner, Les Hinkley, Chuck Hossfeldt and Kyle Ebersole. There were 11 cars on the lead lap at the finish. Tom Barrett finished 11th.

Hirschman's win capped a highly successful year which included victories in the Star Speedway Open, Open Wheel Wednesday at the Seekonk Speedway and the Race of Champions at the Oswego Speedway.

In the companion SK type Modified event Zane Zeiner took the win. Anthony Sesely finished second with Eric Mauriello, third. Steven Reed and Tim Arre rounded out the top five. Woody Pitkat came from a 23rd starting position to finish 6th. Among those also in the field was Keith Rocco who finished 12th and Hirschman who finished 16th.

In other weekend racing southern Modified contender Burt Myers won the Southern National Modified Classic in Kenly, NC.

Big news comes from the Valenti Modified Racing Series. Scott Tapley, who has been acting as Race Director at the Waterford Speedbowl, has left his position at the shore line oval for a similar one with the MRS. In other MRS news the Rookie of the Year title in 2012 will not go to Tommy Barrett but rather will be awarded to driver Mark Bakaj who finished ninth in the season standings. The Modified Racing Series is a privately owned company just like NASCAR is. They make their rules and enforce them.

The MRS rule book states a driver cannot have participated in more than six Modified Racing Series events during any prior season. In 2011 he participated in seven including two in which he did not qualify. That's where the sticking point is. The MRS feels that attempts to qualify by running heat races constitute participation. Then, again, the MRS is a private company and it was the decision by them to dis-allow Barrett as a Rookie candidate. In all fairness, press releases generated by the MRS in 2012 stated that Barrett was in fact a Rookie of the Year contender. MRS statistics on the Chrome Horn also state that Barrett ran in four races in 2011.

The news that Barrett did not win the title set off a fire storm of angry postings on Facebook by former NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour team owner Mario Fiore, who said he serves as an advisor for Barrett. Barrett is said to be moving up to the Whelen Modified Tour Series in 2013 which is maybe where he needs to be. Then, again, NASCAR has been known to make unpopular decisions at times and they, too, have seen their share of tirades. Based on pass history, Modified Tour inspectors will have their hands full. Mario means well but he could very well be painting a target on the back of Barrett!

On a sad note, Bruce Cohen reported that photographer John Grady recently visited four time NASCAR National Sportsman Champ Rene Charland who is in a vegetative state and can only eat soft foods. Rene just had his 83rd birthday.

In action on the tube this week, the Speed Channel will replay last years Daytona 500 at noon on Wednesday. The Phoenix Sprint Cup event will be shown by Speed on Thursday at noon. Speed will also telecast a special titled " Kurt Busch The Outlaw" at 7:00pm and at 8:00pm will telecast the NASCAR Awards Ceremony that honored the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series. Beyond 200: The Hendrick Racing Story follows at 10:00pm.
Friday's viewing begins at noon with a replay of the recent Sprint Cup race run in Las Vegas. The Bristol race follows at 3:00pm. At 8:00pm Speed provides live coverage of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Awards Ceremony from Las Vegas.

On the Speedway Stock Market scene last week all three speedway stocks had successfull results for the week. Leading the way was the International Speedway Corporation which went up 1.40 to 26.10. Speedway Motorsports went up 0.97 to 16.27 and Dover Motorsports went up 0.09 to 1.60. NASCAR Cup sponsor Sprint went up 0.16 while Nascar Fuel Supplier Energy Transfer (Sunoco) went up 0.79 to 43.15 and NASCAR tire supplier Goodyear went up 0.67 to 11.83. The car builders also had a good week. Leading the way was Toyota which went up 3.42 to 85.61 while General Motors went up 1.36 to 25.21 and Ford went up 0.60 to 11.10. The home improvement sector was booming as Lowes went up 3.17 to 35.15 and Home Depot went up 2.70 to 64.82. The major team sponsors were all smiles too. Coca-Cola went up 3.67 to 66.60 while Dupont went up 1.17 to 43.12, Target Department Stores went up 1.98 to 64.48, Aarons Rentals went up 0.45 to 29.26 and Fedex went up 1.60 to 87.73.

Thatís it for this week from 11 Gardner Drive, Westerly RI 02891. Ring my chimes at 401-596-5467. E-Mail is

Phil Smith has been a columnist for Speedway Scene and other publications for over 3 decades.

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